Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13, celiac disease a year later, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Ginger provides great insights into life with multiple chronic illnesses, including how to make the most of your life despite your health setbacks.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you deserve to feel burned out because both of these diseases are 24/7! There are no days off. No holidays. You can't even skip diabetes on your birthday!
One of the biggest problems with burnout isn't the burnout itself but the guilt and shame we feel for even being burned out in the first place! Despite how much work we know diabetes is, despite that we know there are no days off, we still seem to think that we ought to be able to deal with it all without ever getting tired of it.
The solution? Anticipate and embrace your burnout.
Now hold on, I know what you're thinking: if I anticipate and embrace my burnout, I might never make it back to not feeling burnout! But in reality, by accepting and acknowledging our burnout, we can actually feel it. We can give ourselves what we deserve: the right to be sick and tired of diabetes management. Does that mean we should stop managing it? Well, no…but it does mean you could back off, just a smidge, to give yourself a little breathing room and a little recovery time. Some people might even call it a "diabetes vacation."
You see, one of the biggest problems with burnout is the cycle it can cause if we try to hide from it or pretend it's not there: it only grows larger! Once it grows larger, you start to feel ashamed and guilty. Then that guilt and shame tires you out even further and zaps any motivation you have for getting back on track because you've already convinced yourself that you're a total failure!
Try creating this 5-step cycle:
1. Identify the feelings of burnout creeping in.
2. Acknowledge them by telling a friend or writing them down.
3. Pick a period of time (three days, a week, two weeks, etc.) that you are going to allow yourself to feel burned out and safely back off a little bit from the demands of the disease while still being sure to take your medication when you need it and check your blood sugar at least one to two times per day.
4. Instead of feeling guilty, remind yourself that this disease is high maintenance and you deserve to feel burned out.
5. Create a pick-up plan: a simple plan for how you're going to gradually ease back into your normal standards of diabetes management.
It sounds simple, sure, but the real difference is that you acknowledge your burnout, replace the guilt with compassion for what you face every day, and feel it rather than try to hide from it!